Wertenbaker’s iconic play celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2013. Over the last quarter of a century, it has enjoyed worldwide success and acclaim.
The play is set in 1787-89 and tells the story of the First Fleet from Britain establishing a penal colony in Botany Bay, Australia. In an attempt to civilise and educate the small-time criminals in his charge Captain Arthur Phillip RN, the first Governor-in-Chief of New South Wales, asks Second Lieutenant Ralph Clark RM to stage a play using a cast of convicts.
“The theatre is an expression of civilisation. We will laugh, we may be moved, we may even think a little. Can you suggest something else that will provide such an evening’s entertainment?” (Captain Phillip, Act 1)
Ralph accepts the commission but is soon grappling with absconding actors, opposition from his fellow officers and a leading lady about to be hanged. The loves and loathings of the fledgling thespians are no different to those of any modern-day actor and early rehearsals are fraught with insecurities and egos. However, as the day of the first performance approaches, Ralph exhorts his actors to: “do your utmost to provide the large audience out there with a pleasurable, intelligible and memorable evening.”
Next Stage Theatre Company has taken Ralph’s advice and is delighted to return to The Minack Theatre with this gripping and entertaining play which celebrates the redemptive power of theatre.